It's almost over, but not quite.
NBA free agency is winding down. Most of the big names are off the market, teams have their rookies in place, and we've already seen a number of trades that will help shift the balance of power in the coming season.
Still, the offseason isn't over.
What's left of the free-agent crop won't spur many headlines or provoke extravagant conjecture, but that's what trades are for.
If James Harden's sudden trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets taught us anything, it's that groundbreaking makeovers take place even in the 11th hour.
In one swift agreement, the complexion of an entire roster can change (see the Boston Celtics). Sometimes these moves come without warning and other times they're as sure as tomorrow's sunrise.
With plenty of teams still looking to improve the state of their roster before the regular season tips off, there remains the distinct possibility that there's much more activity to look forward to.
When the Maloofs were running things, the Sacramento Kings always appeared one rumor away from blowing up their roster and heading in another direction.
Under new ownership, one would hope that the Kings find stability, but such continuity may take some time to achieve, when everything is figured out. At present, the Kings inexplicably have a logjam at every position. Seriously, I'm not kidding—I never joke about Sacramento's future any more. It just seems cruel.
Moreover, the DeMarcus Cousins situation still needs to be resolved. The oft-embattled big man is up for an extension, and he wants one before the season starts. Whether Sacramento will give him one (they should) remains to be seen. If the Kings don't, they could decide to trade Cousins to a team better suited to advance his development.
Regardless of what happens with Boogie, a surplus of mostly mediocre talent at every position could, and should, prompt the Kings to do some serious wheeling and dealing. At least, that's what one hopes, otherwise Sacramento will head into the 2013-14 season with one of the most vexing rosters the NBA has seen.
The New Orleans Pelicans have us asking: What in the world is next?
Landing Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday could be the extent of their offseason activity, or it could merely mean more is on the way. It remains unclear what the Pelicans plan to do with Eric Gordon and Evans. They could start Evans at the 3 and Gordon at the 2, or bring the former off the bench.
They may also opt to trade Gordon. The Pelicans have made him readily available before, and Evans' arrival could spell the end of his tumultuous tenure in New Orleans. Securing a center is also a must for the Pelicans. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that they had been discussing a potential Ryan Anderson-Omer Asik swap, but nothing ever materialized.
In the span of a few weeks, the Hornets have gone from a team with a potentially bright future, to an outfit that could make a playoff push in the Western Conference. With a number of holes that still need plugging, and a clear desire to win now, another roster shakeup may be in order.
Doc Rivers—gone. Kevin Garnett—gone. Paul Pierce—gone. Jason Terry—gone.
So, who's next?
According to CSN New England's Sherrod Blakely, the Boston Celtics are hoping Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace are next. Wallace's deal is especially onerous, paying him over $30 million over the next three years. Humpries at least comes off the books after next season, though paying him more than Rajon Rondo is hardly a deal.
Speaking of the wily point man, Rondo figures to generate a lot of interest around the league.
Still recovering from an ACL injury, he is one of the most crafty playmakers in the game. Knowing he could be on the wrong side of 30 by the time Boston is ready to contend again, the Celtics may decide to move him in favor of some expiring contracts, draft picks and young talent.
The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn reports that the Detroit Pistons would love to deal for Rondo, as would any other team in the league in need of a point guard. If Danny Ainge is serious about unloading Wallace and/or Humphries, he may have to package them along with Rondo to make any deal feasible.
Your move, Boston.
Neither Howard nor Asik can play power forward—seriously, the clouds part whenever one of them scores outside the restricted area—and playing them alongside one another is more than redundant.
Bringing Asik and his $8-plus million salary off the bench is equally as stupid. Much of the same goes for Jeremy Lin and James Harden. The two struggled to coexist last season, since both of them are at their best when dominating the ball.
As the Rockets drew nearer to Howard,'s signing, Lin's name began to surface in trade rumors as well. The guard's contract will be difficult to deal, but the term "immovable" applies exclusively to Amar'e Stoudemire and no one else.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Houston's stars want Asik and Lin to stay. To be fair, Howard also wanted to stay with the Orlando Magic and be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at different points. The word of Harden and Howard is then not ironclad.
Houston's ability to contend hinges on the ability to complement Dwight's interior game and Harden's dribble penetration-heavy attack. Neither Lin nor Asik fit that bill. Don't be surprised if they're moved in favor of a shooter and/or point guard that can hit threes.
And don't be surprised if Harden and Howard aren't broken up about it, either.
Detroit still has some work to do.
Pairing Josh Smith with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe has either given the Pistons a frontcourt trio of the future, or one the team itself will soon come to regret.
In order to smooth over what will seems to be a rather jagged triumvirate, Detroit needs a point guard—preferably one who has some playoff experience and knows what a pick-and-roll offense looks like.
Which brings us back Rondo.
Like we previously discussed, the Pistons have inquired about Rondo's availability. Boston, however, is believed to want Drummond included in any deal, and the young big man is as close to an untouchable asset as Detroit has. Not far behind is Monroe.
The Pistons could eventually cave, or the Celtics could decide that a few expiring contracts and future draft picks are enough. Or the Pistons could take their point guard search elsewhere. Until Detroit gets its point guard situation under control, the Motor City's finest are a team to watch in the coming weeks and months.
Rondo or not, the Pistons may still be headed for some significant changes.
Something about the Denver Nuggets' offseason doesn't sit well with me. Strike that, most of it doesn't sit well with me.
Denver lost Masai Ujiri, George Karl, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer in the same offseason. Brian Shaw and J.J. Hickson were good additions, but they may not be the end.
With Danilo Gallinari amidst a lengthy recovery from ACL injury, and Iggy and Brewer suiting up for different teams, the Nuggets lost a lot of perimeter firepower. One has to believe they'll try to compensate that lost production somehow.
Even with Iguodala, Denver was still thought to be short a superstar. The Nuggets have a trade exception worth roughly $8.2 million, per Hoopsworld, as a result of Iggy's departure, and could use that to acquire someone they consider to be an impact player.
They could also cross their fingers and hope for the best. We'll know which route they decide to explore soon enough.
Because the Golden State Warriors haven't made enough of a splash this offseason, right? Part of me wants to say the Warriors are done. That Iguodala was the big fish not named Dwight Howard they wanted to reel in, so there's no need to keep making changes.
The other part of me looks at the $11 million trade exception they created by trading Richard Jefferson to the Utah Jazz and thinks otherwise. Golden State could stand pat for the rest of the summer, but the front office would be foolish not to at least explore their options.
That trade exception allows them to take back a player of ample value without sending back a contract in return. For a rebuilding team (*cough, Celtics, cough) looking for some financial relief, that can prove significant.
Holstering that trade exception of theirs until later in the season is of course an option, but in a stacked Western Conference, "complacency" isn't a concept many of the teams should embrace.
The Warriors are also now a band of opportunists—not, as we once knew them, the perennial underachievers constantly suspected of tanking. If there's a deal out there to make, they're going to explore it.
Carmelo Anthony's will be done.
Alright maybe not. But until the New York Knicks are completely satisfied that he won't bolt for the Los Angeles Lakers next summer, they're a threat to make some serious moves. New York still needs another point guard, and 'Melo reportedly wanted Rondo. Assuming Ainge and the Celtics aren't taking any stupid pills, the Knicks don't have anything to offer to make it happen.
That doesn't mean New York won't try to appease 'Melo in some way that doesn't begin and end with Metta World Peace. Remember, 'Melo wanted the Knicks to acquire another scorer, and they responded by acquiring Andrea Bargnani. Although that's probably not what he had in mind, the Knicks clearly aren't trigger-shy. There's always the fact that they're notorious for doing something no one sees coming to consider as well.
Moving Stoudemire's contract doesn't appear to be a viable option—unless some team has gotten their hands on those stupid pills we just made reference to—but the Knicks have a handful of assets they could dangle, most notably Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert.
Will they ultimately make another trade or significant addition? The offseason may be young, but the Knicks aren't, so what we see now of the NY roster may not wind up being anything close to what we get to start the season.